Editor’s note: this article was written by 213Hoops contributor Thomas Wood. We do not yet have author profiles set up for each of our contributors, but we will soon!
Where: STAPLES Center
When: 7:00 PM PST
How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, ESPN, AM 570 LA Sports
Projected Starting Lineups
Heat: Kendrick Nunn — Duncan Robinson — Jimmy Butler — Bam Adebayo — TBA
Clippers: Patrick Beverley — Paul George — Kawhi Leonard — Maurice Harkless — Ivica Zubac
Heat: OUT — Tyler Herro (foot), Meyers Leonard (ankle), Justise Winslow (back)
The Big Picture
Tonight, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will play their third consecutive game with one another. The band is back together. But the story this week, beyond wins and losses — ahem, let’s not forget what we’re here for — is whether the band will be getting any new members. The trade deadline is Thursday, and the Clippers have been in acquire-mode since before they put their two stars together. The front office may ultimately decide on nothing, but that seems unlikely. So if you are fond of this particular lineup, tonight’s game may be your last chance to see them jam together, even if what tomorrow brings eventually proves itself to be better.
Speaking of buyers, the Heat are perpetually looking to add, even when they’re not very good. This year though, they’re actually good. Their consistent full-floor game has them solidly in the East’s top four and within clawing distance of the second-seeded Raptors. Jimmy Butler’s combination of talent and mania ensures the team represents a nightly challenge. Less than two weeks ago, they jumped on the Clippers early before the good guys went supernova in the middle quarters. The Clippers were without PG and Patrick Beverley that night, but it took Kawhi’s first triple-double and an explosive night from Landry Shamet to get the win on the other coast. And the Heat weren’t at full strength themselves, missing rookie dynamo Kendrick Nunn among others. The Clippers have since returned to full strength — see: strained metaphor above — while the Heat have lost a little more from the cupboard. No matter; this game’s on national television for a reason. The Heat can absolutely come to LA to repay the favor.
- A Flamethrower in Reserve: Goran Dragic has taken well to life on the bench. Or rather, life coming off of it. The 33-year-old former All-Star has just one start among his 38 appearances this season, his fewest starts since his rookie season. Just don’t tell his stats that. He’s still averaging 16 points per game and converting 39.5% of his nearly six nightly three-point tries. Dragic is a scorcher. I bet Heat fans even think he should be Sixth Man of the Year. How quaint.
- A Little Less Hot: Miami will be without its starting center and presumed distant Kawhi-cousin, Meyers Leonard. At the time of this writing, the Heat hadn’t yet announced his replacement, and any guess I could make would be just that, as Leonard had started everygame this year before leaving Monday’s victory over the 76ers early. Tyler Herro, rookie shooter and Lucas’s fashion inspiration, was also hurt during Monday’s game and will sit tonight.
- Clippings: It’s all trade talk and it stales quickly, so for the latest updates, set your Twitter notifications and keep checking back here for all things Clippers.
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